Hitfix.com is my job. I am very lucky right now, when I see good people like Glenn Kenny and Anne Thompson and Andy Klein losing their jobs, people who are great writers with important voices in their field. And by whatever fate, I have a new job, and a job where I’m given a lot of latitude to choose what it is that I want to write about. So I count myself pretty fortunate. These are good folks to be working with. The last few weeks, I’ve been doing the interview circuit. You’ll be reading my Henry Selick and Neil Gaiman pieces for “Coraline” this weekend, and you’ll be seeing all of my “Friday The 13th” video interviews here next week as well. And that stuff is a certain investment of time.
And before that, we did Sundance, and what was great about that is how I’m still writing Sundance pieces that are relevant, like the “September Issue” review you’ll see here later, with that film just selling for distribution by Roadside Attractions in, appropriately, September of this year. But that was a huge investment of time, certainly.
And that’s fine. That’s my job, that investment of time. And since this blog is my online home now, I’ve got some very definite ideas about what I want to ultimately do with the place.
[more after the jump]
That hasn’t left a lot of time for one of the other things I really want to focus on this year, and that’s film criticism-as-festival-programming, where I spend chunks of the year writing about film by theme, by era, by director, or by whim. Where I talk about what really interests me right now. What I want from this job is a place where I can leave a very specific body of work. I want this blog to evolve, as I try out features and ideas and try to define for myself and for you guys what it is.
I don’t just want to be a slave to what’s coming out on DVD this week or what’s opening in theaters on Friday, as much as I love all of that. I think it takes more of a relationship with film than just watching new releases, and I want to make sure that the conversation we have… and I hope you view this blog as exactly that, since in order for it to work, I’m depending on you to comment and to engage me… let me know what you’re enjoying, what you want more of.
I was recently talking with another online writer, and we were talking about the holes that exist in everyone’s film knowledge, mine included. Everyone has blind spots. Everyone has movies they haven’t seen. The point isn’t to be the person who has seen them all… it’s to make sure you’re constantly open to whatever you can see along the way. And to enjoy it. It’s not homework. It’s not about a checklist. If I take someone to see “Lawrence of Arabia,” my favorite movie, it’s not because I think it’s “important” for them to see it. It’s because it’s a great goddamn movie, and in a theater, it’s a full-body experience unlike any Hollywood epic. That’s what I hope to share with people… the pleasure I get from movies. The pleasure they can get from them.
We, at this moment, and probably from this point forward, are absolutely smothered in choice, drowning in media, awash in all the movies we could ever hope to consume. I have something like 9000 movies in my house at this point, and I know I have but a fraction of what’s out there. And of the material in my house, I’d guess there’s 30% of it that I’ve never laid eyes on. Stuff that I am aware of, that I have a plan to see “someday,” and that is in the house right now. And that stuff… that’s what really intrigues me. That’s the stuff that I want to start digging into. I’ve laid in stores like I’m waiting for winter, and now we’re reading how they’re about to start cutting DVD production, and they’re going to have to scale back release schedules, and DVD is on the way out anyway, and I guess winter is here.
I think I may actually start a back-and-forth with at least one web guy, giving him a film he’s never seen, and then him giving me one to watch in return. And if anyone else is interested in jumping in, I may do it with other online writers as well. I think it’s a good way of keeping our minds engaged in something other than a marketing campaign. It’s good for readers, because it may push them to check out these movies that they’ve never seen either, which is the point. Anyone can drive to the multiplex right now and see any of the top ten movies in release. People don’t need critics for that. They may enjoy reading someone’s voice on the subject of current releases, but I don’t think critics matter at all. I think where we can matter… and where I hope other people agree that we can matter… is in writing about film as a whole, and hopefully steering our audiences into their own discoveries.
I’m not sure what I’ll call this ongoing feature yet. I’m open to suggestions.